Study Title:

Too Many Babies Already Fat

Study Abstract

From press release:

Researchers found as many as one third of U.S. children at the age of nine months were obese or overweight or at risk of obesity and the rate varied by race and socioeconomic status.

The rate of obesity among 9-month-old infants seems greater than what was found in an early study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimated the obesity rate among children aged between 2 to 5 years at about 12 percent.

The study was conducted by Brian G. Moss, PhD of Wayne State University and William H. Yeaton of University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and published in the January/February 2011 issue of American Journal of Health Promotion.

Moss and Yeaton measured weight for 8,900 9-month-olds who were born in 2001 and then followed 7,500 until they were 2 years old to monitor the change of their weight.

They found about one third of the children, who were representative of the U.S. pediatric population, were obese or at risk of becoming obese at 9 months. The rate increased to 34.3 percent at 2 years.

Hispanics and low socioeconomic status children were at higher risk of obesity, compared with other children. Females and Asian/Pacific Islanders were less likely to be obese at such ages.

In the United States, about 17 percent of all children and adolescents were obese, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported, citing the 2007-2008 NHANES.

Obese children are at elevated risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, psychosocial problems, diabetes and becoming obese adults. The overall financial burden from childhood obesity is 3 billion dollars annually, the CDC says.

What causes infant obesity?

Studies have found infants breastfed are much less likely to develop obesity as a child and later as an adult. Although it remains unknown what is responsible for the difference, researchers speculated at least some hormone present in mother's breast milk protects against excessive weight gain.

R. Li and colleagues of the CDC reported in the June 2010 issue of Pediatrics that bottle-fed infants gained weight fast likely because they during late infancy tended to eat more than those breastfed.

Li et al. analyzed data for 1250 infants to examine the impact of feeding mode and type of milk during early infancy on their eating habits during late infancy.

They found 54 percent of infants who bottle-fed during early infancy emptied the bottle or cup in late infancy, compared to only 27 percent of infant breastfed in early infancy.

B. Koletzko and colleagues of Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany reported in 2009 in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology that breastfeeding reduces the obesity at school age by about 20 percent, compared with those who are bottle-fed.

Koletzko et al. said the protective effect against obesity could be at least because breast milk contains lower amounts of protein, compared with infant formulas.

They observed that children fed a standard formula for the first year and then given a protein-reduced formula for the second year had a normal growth rate, compared with those breastfed children.

Another thing mothers can do to reduce the risk of their children's becoming obese is lose some weight if they are overweight or obese before becoming pregnant. Pre-pregnant weight, weight gain, diabetes and smoking can also contribute to the risk of a child's obesity.

Study Information

Brian G. Moss and William H. Yeaton
A third of 9-month-olds obese or at risk of obesity
American Journal of Health Promotion
2011 January
Wayne State University and University of Michigan

Full Study